Koch Brothers' 'Pro-Romney' Letter To Staff: Is Koch PAC Non-Partisan, As They Claim?
It hasn’t been the best week for the billionaire Koch brothers. The lesser known Koch, David’s twin brother Bill, stands accused of kidnapping and imprisoning an executive on his Colorado ranch. He denies all charges.
Bill’s more famous siblings Charles and David Koch are rarely out of the headlines, but Sunday’s news was more substantive than the usual speculation on where America’s richest brothers, worth $31 billion apiece, are secretly spending their cash this election.
Liberal political magazine In These Times obtained and published a packet of voting information sent to 45,000 employees of Koch Industries paper subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. The materials include a list of Koch-endorsed candidates — those who “have received support from a Koch company or Koch PAC”, the company’s political action committee. For Oregon staffers, that list is comprised solely of Republicans: 14 of them at state level, plus the Romney/Ryan presidential ticket.
The publication of this mailing comes on the heels of another highly publicized letter from a member of the one per cent. Timeshare mogul David Siegel wrote to his employees last week urging them to vote for Mitt Romney or risk losing their jobs. He told my colleague Luisa Kroll that if President Obama is reelected, he’ll consider closing up shop and laying off all 7,000 of his staff.
Koch Industries’ slick media operation was quick to respond to In These Times’ piece, noting that other corporations and unions provide similar information to employees and members. Georgia-Pacific’s spokesperson went a step further, denying the company’s endorsements are at all partisan:
Koch Industries’ Koch PAC has indeed supported Democrats this election, but only to the tune of $23,500, backing four Democrats in Congressional races (for the record: $10,000 to Georgia’s John Barrow, $2,000 to Oklahoma’s Dan Boren, $5,500 to Minnesota’s Collin Peterson and $6,000 to Arkansas’ Mike Ross).“As we regularly point out, Koch companies and Koch PAC support candidates based on their support for market-based policies and economic freedom, which benefits society as a whole. Our support is not based on party affiliation, and we support both Republicans and Democrats who support market-based policies and solutions.”
By contrast, Koch PAC has spent $1.162 million on Republican candidates for the House, plus another $152,000 on GOP Senate hopefuls. FEC disclosures show that the Koch Industries group donated $25,000 to the the official Romney/Ryan fundraising committee in August, as well as $30,000 each to the National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee.
In fact, Koch PAC’s giving has become increasingly partisan over the years. Check out the chart below, courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics. The group’s donations to Democratic candidates make up 1.7% of their federal expenditure so far this election cycle, versus just over 15% in 2008 and just under 22% in 2004.
Watch this space to see if this divide narrows at all with the next Koch PAC monthly report, due to the FEC on October 20.
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